Sunday, December 7, 2014

Aldo vs. Nedo Nadi #fencing video and some comments

This video is posted online purporting to be the legendary Aldo Nadi fencing against his brother Nedo at Cannes in 1935. The film is probably identified correctly, but even if it is not it suffices to make my point here, for it is old footage of high level fencing, whoever is involved.

Those who object to present-day fencing's long periods of absence of blade and sudden leap-in attacks are objecting to something that has been going on for a long time. That fact doesn't match up with what some fencers would like to think of as "classical" or "pre-electric" fencing. But their view of what fencing used to be, back in the good old days, is contradicted by the above video. The fencing they love, long elegant phrases, remaining in distance with continuous joining of blades, is good academic fencing. But as for tournament work, watchfulness from a distance and jumping in to engage is actually old hat. What is really new in today's game is bouncing up in down in place, which is a fad.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Americans say they are safer for owning guns

Full story at

This is an interesting story on several levels. Gallup finds that 63% of Americans over all think that owning a gun makes you safer, and the breakdown is interesting: 81% of Republicans think so, 64% of Independents and 41% of Democrats.

But only 42% in total admit to having a gun. I've remarked on that before. It is a question with built-in underreporting. If someone calls you on the phone asking you if you own guns, you have every reason to lie. You could be talking to a thief, a government snoop of some sort, or some busybody from the political ax grinder contingent.

Friday, November 14, 2014

U.S. Navy deploys laser cannon

Story here:

The laser is now afloat for a good wringing out under real conditions at sea. The following Navy footage shows last year's version.

A really neat thing about ray gun weapons is that windage and drop are not factors in the shot. Another is that the ammunition, so to speak, is simply electricity. The article says firing the 30-kilowatt weapon costs about a dollar a shot. During the worst of the ammo shortages you could spend more than that much firing some pistol rounds.

Still another neat thing is that the power output can be scaled down. Think of how handy that will be when the technology trickles down to hunting weapons. A hunter will not need both a squirrel rifle and a big game rifle, for he will have a power dial on his rifle. But I don't suppose I should call it a rifle, if I want to be precise in my use of words, because a laser beam needs no rifling to shoot straight. Let's start thinking up a new term now for this thing which we carry around and shoot, for change is on the way.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

2014 midterms were a beginning, I hope

It is premature to say that the American electorate has awoken. They still don't seem fully to understand that they are being bribed with their own money. They still switch on the TV news. They send their kids off to socialist indoctrination at school, or something that is too near it for comfort.

Still, anti-Obama sentiment carried Republicans to substantial victories yesterday. An interesting snippet from the Internet news sphere notes that all of the successful GOP Senate candidates campaigned against Obamacare.

Obama is offering defiance to the Republicans, post election, threatening vetoes and executive orders. He is so completely the blind ideologue that he cannot imagine that he is not in the right: he deeply believes that his ideas naturally reflect the right way forward. What the Democrats need to live down, and they may never manage to do it, is that they went lockstep with this guy's every whim, every dream, every half baked idea for six whole years. Then they pretended that they were not Team Obama when the election came around, and ran away from their President. O-who? Never heard of him! America's voters more readily forgive liars than fools, which is why the Democrats got as far as they did, over the decades, and why they lost big this time.

Upset victories in midterm elections are not uncommon, and it remains to be seen whether Republicans are smart enough to make this victory stick in 2016 and beyond. To keep their momentum they need to deliver on what they said: turn back the tide of rising Obamunism. Everybody knows how Obama created a disaster with health care 'reforms,' entitlements and debt, crony deals, government intrusions and overreach and general sneakiness. But are the Republicans gutsy enough to substantially undo those things before the next election? At the very least they need to make trying to do so a battle royal, if they are to sustain their credibility.

Update: From the retrospective perspective  (retroperspective?) of 2015 things look rather different.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Motivational: Go vote

Friday, October 31, 2014

Who decides who carries what, and where?

From the Washington Times:
3 robbed at gunpoint after N.C. state fair declares gun-free zone

By Jessica Chasmar - The Washington Times - Thursday, October 30, 2014
Three people were reportedly robbed at gunpoint Saturday leaving the North Carolina State Fair after a judge ruled earlier this month that concealed weapons would not be permitted at the event.

Wake County Superior Court judge Donald Stephens decided more than two weeks ago that it would be “unwise and imprudent” to allow concealed weapons at the state fair this year...

Read more:
Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

It appears to me that the most competent person to decide whether a gun should be carried or not is the person who might have a use for the gun. Individual rights come with individual responsibilities, and if it really is an individual right, the individual's discretion should be factored into its exercise. This is not necessarily an argument that anyone should carry anything anywhere one likes, but a call for a bit less micromanagement and a good deal less governmental oversight in the exercise of what I, with the framers, take to be an essential human right.

The right to bear arms is the right not to be coerced by threats of violence. Oddly enough, crime drops where a bad guy has to consider that there is a possibility, however slim, that his next victim may shoot him. That is the situation where people carry concealed weapons at their discretion. That is not the situation where the law calls on all law abiding persons to go unarmed. You see the problem with that? It creates a disparity. The law un-abider reasons, correctly, that he obtains an advantage by going armed where others will not.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Rube Goldberg's contribution to small arms

A look inside the M2 Carbine

If the conversion of the M1 Carbine to the M2 was not done by the great master of mechanical silliness, it was certainly done by a student or admirer. An ingenious chain reaction among a series of retrofitted parts subverts the operation of the carbine's trigger group, which  worked in a straightforward manner originally, and does it in a way that will delight all admirers of perverted design. Conceptually it most resembles the old trick of tying a bit of string to the operating handle.

This Army footage uses a large cutaway model to explain the M2 Kludgebine's internal operation:

Monday, October 20, 2014

New dog on the block

Very good news for fans of bullpup rifles: Steyr has just released a new version of the AUG. It has a fully modern Picatinny rail system. You add the sight base that best serves your needs. Options include an AUG scope with rail slots on it.

Steyr AUG A3 M1

So now people shopping for a bullpup, and wanting to take advantage of modern options in sighting equipment, have an additional gun to look at. Steyr quality is always very good and the AUG is a well proven design. The basic AUG rifle has been around since the late seventies and is in military and police use in a number of countries around the world.

A rifle in the bullpup configuration makes outstandingly good sense for personal protection or home defense and is great for hiking. Because the receiver is set back into the buttstock, you can have a usefully long barrel in a rifle of short over-all length. The idea is an old one but it has taken a long time to catch on. There are certain technical issues to sort out in building a gun that way and there is a bit of traditionalist inertia involved too--riflemen who like rifles that look like what they have seen before, or work like the ones they had in the service, and some people just have an atavistic attraction to polished walnut and gleaming blue steel.

But the future has definitely arrived with the availability of top quality, up to date bullpups from Steyr, IWI and FN; doubtless more makers will join the market. These rifles look like prop guns from fifties sci-fi movies, but they offer an advantage in portability with no compromise of functionality.

You can read more about the new AUG here:

Friday, October 10, 2014

Swordsmanship the Navy's way -- Say what!?

Contradictory instructions and a touch of historical mystery make turn of the century Navy manuals more confusing than enlightening

Something very strange is to be found in The Petty Officer's Drillbook, Unites States Navy, 1904 Revised Edition: In this book there is a peculiar fencing method that combines the saber parries with point ripostes. Here is the PDF: Herein we read

"In this exercise all attacks are made by thrusting with the point of the sword, instead of attempting to cut with the edge. The attack with the point is more deadly, and there is less exposure to counter attack than there is in making slashing blows that alone render the edge effective."

That, of course, echoes common talking points in the point-versus-edge controversy as expressed around the turn of the century (19th to 20th). Gen. George S. Patton or some other point-only enthusiast could have written those words. As to the provenance of the Drillbook method, we read:

"This Sword Exercise was originally prepared by Prof. A.J. Corbesier, Sword Master at the Naval Academy, assisted by Lieut. W.F. Fullam, U.S.N."

It is a curious thing that the method uses only point attacks, in that Corbesier's earlier method, published  in 1872, emphasizes using the cut, just as all broadsword, saber and cutlass methods did at that time. The parries illustrated in the 1904 version are those of singlestick or cutlass or saber, but the ripostes have been changed. You are supposed to turn your point toward the opponent and then thrust, after parrying saber-fashion.

Fullam was a Navy career man who lived October 20, 1855 – September 23, 1926.

Corbesier was employed for a great many years at the U.S. Naval Academy, from 1865 to 1914, as their fencing master. He lived January 22, 1837 – March 26, 1915.

In Corbesier's obituary, Fullam wrote

"Professor Corbesier's record was one of complete loyalty to naval and military traditions. For many years he was my assistant as drill master in the Department of Ordnance and I have never a finer example of attention to every duty. His success with midshipmen was insured by his never failing enthusiasm and patience."

So the two men were well acquainted and doubtless held each other in esteem. I can find no indication of when, precisely, the revised cutlass method using only point ripostes was created, or the circumstances leading to its creation, or the nature of the collaboration. Those details would be very interesting as bits of historical lore but, as so often happens, they may be lost for good. We know that that the collaboration happened when Fullam was a lieutenant, for so it says, and he ended up a rear admiral, so that narrows the timeframe a bit.

In any case, the sword was very nearly useless for naval warfare by 1904, so whether this method improved or degraded sailors' abilities as swordsmen is moot. I have some reservations about fencing this way. I see the wisdom of retaining the saber parries, for they can answer either cut or thrust, and enemies (if any with swords could be found in 1904) would be quite as likely to attack using cuts as thrusts.

The ripostes with the point, though, require rotating the point through a long arc and then extending it. That takes time. It might be argued that it does not take very much more time than simply taking a cut at the adversary. It has to take a little more time because the blade must be aligned to the target, then the thrust must be made, while in a cut the blade is accelerating all the way to its target. Furthermore, making a cutting riposte closes the opponent out of that line with an arc of rapidly moving steel.

It may be only a matter of naval disorganization, but The Ship and Gun Drills, U.S. Navy, 1914, has a different exercise, and it cites the 1905 edition of Ship and Gun Drills as its source. It says,

"In this exercise attacks are made by thrusting with the point of the sword, or by cutting with the edge. The attack with the point is usually more deadly, and there is less exposure to counter attack than there is in making the slashing blows that alone render the edge effective; both methods may, however, be used; circumstance must determine."

The citation for this cut-and-thrust version is given as follows:

"Note:-- From Ship and Gun Drills, 1905. Originally prepared by Sword Master A.J. Corbesier, U.S. Naval Academy, assisted by Lieut. W. F. Fullam, U.S.N. It is inserted in this book to serve as a guide to officers or men who desire to perfect themselves in the use of the sword as a weapon." 

Feeling curious by this time, I looked at the source cited and, indeed, there we see the cut and thrust version of the drill. In 1904 the word was to use only the point; in 1905 that is either contradicted or rescinded in a different book.

The existence of this cut and thrust version of the Corbesier-Fullam method, nearly contemporary with the thrust only version, and using similar language and illustrations, presents the reader with something of a puzzle to work out. Military manuals disagreeing with each other, even within the same service, is perhaps not a very big puzzle, but this case may suggest something beyond typical bureaucratic disorganization, indicating instead that I am not the first to feel some reservations about the thrust-only version of Corbesier's method.

As the plot thickens, Fullam, now a lieutenant commander, is credited on the title page as having prepared the 1904 Petty Officer's Drillbook. He is also the first listed on the title page of the 1905 Ship and Gun Drills, among the preparers of that book. Fullam's responsible in both places, in consecutive years, yet we see different versions, differing in a highly important matter, of what he "assisted" Corbesier in preparing, previously--when Fullham was a lieutenant. It's all rather mysterious.

If you want a really good manual about using a broadsword, saber, cutlass, hanger, etc., I recommend, once again, Corbesier's  1872 method. The original continues to carry my highest recommendation among books on the military saber. Read and study that one; treat Fullam's later revisions as historical curiosities.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Rare fencing manual free online

Fans of fencing master A.J. Corbesier will be pleased to learn that his short treatise on fencing with the foil, published in 1873, is available online.


The printed book, Theory of Fencing; With the Small-Sword Exercise, sells for hundreds of dollars on the collector's market. If all you are interested in is the information in it you can save 100%.  As a bonus you get some extraneous diagrams of a rather curious sort of gun, a mitrailleuse, at the end of the electronic book. I am not sure how those got in there, but readers of this blog will likely enjoy them, anyhow.

A plate from Corbesier's Theory of Fencing

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Playing games with numbers

. . . There you have the reason why pistol caliber debates go round and round interminably. Everyone wants something that does not exist: a pistol cartridge that is small enough to be practical and is also highly effective.

At the same time that the military is making noises about going to a bigger pistol caliber than 9mm, the FBI is talking about going back to the 9mm, giving up their present .40 S&W pistols. A difference worth noting here is that the military mostly shoots FMJ while the FBI uses expanding bullets. But there is a sameness too. Arguments about pistol effectiveness are debates over very little. That is to say, pistols have little effectiveness to debate. The numbers can be jiggered any way you want, of course.

L: .45 ACP;  R: 9mm Parabellum
I remember that when the military's switch to 9mm was being debated back in the eighties, numbers and charts were offered showing that the 9mm was just as effective as the old caliber, the .45 ACP. This brought forth eye rolls from people who looked at the bullets side by side and concluded that the really important difference was obvious. One was bigger than the other.

"Yeah, but..." ran the counter argument, repeated so often that the words were soon running together into the familiar refrain "yabbut, yabbut, yabbut..." The 9mm bullet is faster, and also lighter, so it sheds its kinetic energy all that much quicker in the target...

Uh huh. One of the things you learn in the gun community is that if an argument can be made it will be made, whether or not that argument is outstanding for cogency.

In fact no practical type of pistol does what we would like, which is to stop an attacker reliably and instantly, every time. That fact is the little lost dog in the caliber debates, constantly running about and trying to be noticed, wagging, sitting, rolling over, trying in every way to be ingratiating but being roundly ignored.

The only reason to use a pistol to defend yourself is that you did not bring a proper self defense firearm. The pistol is the hardest of firearms to shoot straight, consequently has the lowest hit probability, is not very powerful in any manageable, practical version and its performance against modern body armor is roughly nil, though surely no less than that. The way a pistol stops the fight is by good hits, and those are difficult to obtain with a pistol. There you have the reason why pistol caliber debates go round and round interminably. Everyone wants something that does not exist: a pistol cartridge that is small enough to be practical and is also highly effective.

The 9mm cartridge has several things to recommend it. Its recoil is only moderate, at least in a full sized pistol, and is something a recruit can learn to manage in a brief course of instruction. Its use in many wars in the last century proves it is not useless, but generally satisfactory if your expectations are not set too high. (It performs just like a medium bore, medium intensity pistol cartridge.) It is lighter to carry in quantity than the .45 or the .40. It makes a usefully bigger hole than the .30 Mauser and 7.62 Tokarev pistol cartridges. This mix of virtues has made it vastly popular and, thus, ammunition is available in many parts of the world.

The debates continue, and will continue. So long as people look for something they cannot have, a pistol cartridge that is really appropriate for the job they would like it to do, their minds will continue to invest largely imaginary advantages into this or that cartridge, and in doing so they will provide material for gun writers to produce endless vapid articles about it.

Monday, October 6, 2014

A headlight for your snubnose

I have mixed feelings about mounting a flashlight on a pistol. In some circumstances it is no doubt a good idea, giving you one thing to handle, a combined pistol and illumination unit, not two separate items. On the other hand, people got by for years and years with separate flashlights that they could pull out and use at the same time as the pistol, if needed.

If your flashlight is bolted onto your pistol you may be tempted to violate  Rule Two. For safety reasons, you should not pull out your pistol-flashlight combo unit and use it for illumination when all you really need is a flashlight.

All that said, here is an ingeniously compact version of the pistol light, designed for the little J-frame S&W revolvers. It is available from the NRA Store:  I am considering it, but it occurs to me that if I carry this I will still carry a separate flashlight, in case I need to look at something without pointing a gun at it. That leads to questions of redundancy, and excess weight and bulk, but then again, this small and efficient gun light is not very big or heavy. The light puts out a claimed 100 lumens and is activated by a pressure switch on the grip, located so that you press it when you grasp the gun.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The derp of the sword (snark)

Smallsword, mid-18th century

Online discussion groups tend sometimes to be weird echo chambers where people repeat each other as authorities, add to and encourage one another's suppositions and at last come up with ideas existing only in the hothouse environment of online fora.

Case in point--While looking online for something else, I found some talk going on in sword and fencing discussion boards that concluded that the smallsword must have been ineffective, lacking in "stopping power."

Let us grant that it is true that the smallsword was a deficient weapon. Then let us apply a little logic and see where that takes us. (Nyuck, nyuck.)

We must conclude that the typical socket bayonet was likewise ineffective, since it had a smallsword blade profile: hollow ground, triangular cross section.

Top to bottom: Socket bayonet, another socket bayonet, rod bayonet, knife bayonet

The numerous triangular, cruciform and square section poniards, stilettos and bodkins coming down to us as relics of bygone eras were poorly conceived weapons, obviously.

WWI trench knives made that way were likewise wrongheaded work.

U.S. Trench Knife M1917

We may likewise conclude that the inferiority of this blade type escaped the attention of military planners for a long time. Survivals of generally smallsword-like forms of bayonet may be seen even into the 20th century--pointed rods lightened by flutes, able only to make wounds like those from a smallsword. The Chinese SKS bayonet is an example familiar to many today.

The trouble is, I suppose, that back when people actually fought with and died by bladed weapons, they did not have the Internet to tell them that they were doing it wrong.

. . .

That is enough send-up, I suppose. In the era in which swords were in common use, it was often claimed and argued that a point thrust, as from a smallsword, was more decisive and deadly than a cutting attack with a saber. I find the Internet verdict that the smallsword was ineffective to be flawed because it is based on the wrong question. "Stopping power," the key criterion in the derpful evaluation, is an idea, and a term, from the world of firearms. Imposing it on a discussion of swords is misleading. There were many instances of saber cuts not being delivered with full effectiveness, due to the opponent's efforts to avoid that very outcome. The question was not how hard you could hit him with your saber if you got the chance to hit him as hard as you could, but whether you could hit him at all. He was parrying, he was moving, he was trying to kill you. Hitting flat with a saber or only nicking the opponent, or making a cut too rushed and feeble to be decisive, not unlikely outcomes in those circumstances, rather moots the question of what would happen if you took a full deliberate swing at a stationary man. Moreover, heavy clothing, as well as equipment worn on his body, would often protect a soldier from the worst effects of a saber stroke. The saber was a tremendous weapon, but direct comparison of its destructiveness to the smallsword's thrust is quite deceiving, simply because its full effectiveness was not always possible to achieve.

The idea of optimizing a sword for thrusting is found in the bronze age. If such a weapon is a mistake, people have been making it for a long time.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Yes, cops have trust issues

(H/T to )

Properly understood, there is nothing particularly anti-cop about this, it's just reality. When the blues arrive at the scene they are coming upon a situation they do not yet fully understand and they are trying to make sure they live long enough to figure it out. So if a cop treats you like a suspect or a criminal although you are the good guy, please remember that it is nothing personal. It's simply business.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Invasion USA -- 1952 B movie

If you were wondering where Occupy Wall Street got its rhetoric, here you are: The clip starts at 1:06:10. But watch the whole movie. As well as promoting a strong national defense and opposing military cuts, it is in several ways a fifties nostalgia gem.

A glaring glitch in the film is that the foreign invaders are flying US aircraft. It was common to use military stock footage in movies back in the fifties, whether it actually fit into your movie or not. A little later in the film the careful observer will see the US forces flying US planes too. Okay, maybe to the average moviegoer a plane is a plane. A ship is a ship, a gun...

A Russian PPSh-41 prop gun appears at about 36:45, but the Roosky's sidekick has a good old American M-1 Carbine, stock movie gun wherever a gun was required in the fifties. Cheap war surplus... those were the days.

The ubiquitous William Schallert has a brief role. He was the obnoxious bureaucrat in Star Trek TOS's "The Trouble With Tribbles," and has been in some role large or small in every TV show or movie ever made. I think it's a union rule or something.

A sad moment in the film: Senators get shot.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Smallsword simplified

"Fencing made easy" is an impossibility, but in earlier times there were some attempts made to at least simplify it a bit.

The smallsword developed as a shorter, lighter rapier, very fast to maneuver. In its ultimate development it lost its cutting edges, the blade being formed as a hollow-ground spike of triangular cross section, very light, and very stiff for its weight. Thus all other qualities were sacrificed for speed, and attacks were perforce made with the point.

This is the weapon that gave us the intricate maneuvers of foil and épée fencing. As anyone knows who has tried it, such fencing involves a complex apparatus of defensive techniques--parries and deceptive moves and attempts to push the other fellow's blade around. Use of the smallsword is, though, simple in one respect. All attacks work alike. You extend your arm, pointing your blade to the target, and then you lunge. The reason for the many and complicated defenses is that it is very easy for both swordsmen to be impaled when they use that style of attack. If you stab your opponent, but run yourself upon his sword while you do it, it cannot sensibly be regarded as a tie.

So simplicity in one area bred complexity in another. You can learn to attack in five minutes of instruction, and perfect the action in a week, but getting the defensive aspect down properly can take years, for defense is a bit of an arcane art. As a result, incidents in which both combatants were run through were frequent, in the days when gentlemen wore smallswords and settled their quarrels with them.

Attempts to simplify the defensive part led to some eccentric fencing methods that tried to offer adequate defenses while being easier to understand and use than the arcana of the fencing schools. I find these alternative fencing methods fascinating. The idea behind them is not to be a picture perfect fencer, but to defend well enough survive a deadly attack on the street, or a duel.

The best of these simplified methods, in my opinion, are two by Sir William Hope and another developed by Baron César de Bazancourt. There are some others, but the ones I suggest were composed by men who thoroughly acquainted themselves with the school methods first, and then looked to simplify them. Some of the other reinterpretations of fencing were the work of blowhards or dandies. The methods of Hope and Bazancourt are available free online. If this aspect of the smallsword's use interests you, you will find plenty to enjoy at these links:

Hope's first attempt, published in 1692:

Hope's controversial second attempt, 1707:

Bazancourt, 1862:  (in English)

Bazancourt in the original Klingon:

Friday, September 12, 2014

Pick just two guns: one short, one long

There are some people who will get hives from even considering the question, so they are excused from the following exercise. Select one handgun and one long gun for self defense, with the idea that these will be what you rely on permanently, come what may, till death do you part.

It will be interesting to find out what other people say. For me the choices are a .38 snub and a 12 gauge riot gun. The snubnose revolver is small, easy to conceal and vastly reliable in any good brand. Because you can carry it discreetly there is little reason not to have it with you, provided you have honored the legalities.

The ballistically correct and tactically grim crowd will roll their eyes and say, "Ken, that's not much of a gun! You need at least a..." I have thought about this and experimented over the course of many years. I conclude that people who say you can conceal a full sized fighting pistol in everyday life don't get out much. In some settings, in some modes of attire, it's just not practical.

Fortunately, we can find records of many incidents where the little .38 proved to be enough gun, for it was for many years the usual concealment piece for cops and is still popular in the un-badged armed citizen sector. It is not what you would choose to hold off zombie vampire hordes at Fort Mudge, but in the real world it will often work to break up an attack and allow you to extricate yourself from the situation. So long as you are alive for your arraignment, your self defense gun has done its job.

The .38 snub has some bad characteristics. It does not hold much ammo and it is difficult to shoot straight. The difficulty of shooting it owes to its small grip, long heavy trigger and the sights' short radius. Range practice, with close attention to shooting fundamentals, gets you past the difficulties, with the bonus that once you get the snub shooting where you want it, all other pistols are easier to hit with than they were before.

The riot gun needs less argument to defend it. It has a higher hit probability than any other personal weapon, twice that of a select fire rifle and nearly half again that of a submachine gun. It has a long history of stopping fights suddenly and its presence in your hands may dishearten opponents even if you don't shoot anyone.

The pump shotgun's only notable failure mode is the short cycle jam. Since it is an operator induced stoppage the operator can prevent it. SLAM the action open, all the way open. SLAM it closed. You will not break it, but if you operate the gun gently the shell feeding process may foul up, leaving you displeased--at the least.

There is one other operator problem, rare, but not unheard of. You must avoid loading a shell into the magazine backwards. Confirm, by touch or sight, that the shell has its base to the rear before you push it into the magazine tube.

Both of my guns are short range weapons. That does not worry me because nearly all justifiable self defense shootings are short range affairs, so I'm armed for anything likely to happen.

Reasonable alternatives

I would not argue at all with someone who prefers one or other of the small semi-auto pocket pistols in .380 or 9mm Luger, for these guns fill the same niche as the .38 snub. There are reliability issues with some of these pistols but I am told that the manufacturers are working those out. If you have such a gun and it's reliable, well then, good for you. It likely holds more shots than my .38, is quicker to reload and its trigger is better.

Notice, though, that these pocket autos are designed to fill the same niche as the .38 snub and some advertisements explicitly compare these guns to the J-frame revolver. The purpose of all these small sized, medium-bore guns is to keep out of sight, but to strike a reasonably powerful blow if need be, a role the .38 snub has filled successfully for many years. We have identified the job that needs doing; the debate is only about how best to do it.

Nor would I be critical if someone prefers a semi-auto version of the riot gun. For many years, few of the self-loading shotguns available were really reliable, which led to people steering clear of self-loaders for defensive use. A jam now and then does not matter if you are shooting at birds, but a gun that hangs up even once in a thousand times gives one an uneasy feeling if its job is defending you. Nowadays, though, there are several fine choices if what you want is a semi-auto fighting shotgun. The great advantage is that such a gun removes a step from the firing cycle, since you don't work the action manually. Your task framework is thus simplified to lining up your shots, firing, and stuffing more shells into the gun.

20 gauge shotguns, pump and semi-auto, are popular self defense choices with shooters who are of small build, or recoil sensitive for one reason or other. Again, no argument from me, though I think many of these people would be about as well served by a 12 gauge gun with reduced recoil buckshot loads.

What are your own picks?

To reiterate, the question is what would you choose if limited to one handgun and one long gun for self defense. I'm sure not everyone sees it my way, and some people, doubtless, have different circumstances that shape their choices. I totally get it. I would choose a larger handgun if I did not have to think about careful concealment, and if I lived on a big spread in Montana with open country stretching away for miles, the shotgun, with its built-in range limitations, would not seem like such a great choice.

I intend this as an open-ended question, symposium style, with no wrong answers, but please give your reasons.

Monday, September 8, 2014

When is a scout rifle not a scout?

Ruger has announced that they now offer their Gunsite Scout Rifle in 5.56/.223. This contravenes the scout rifle's very definition, which calls for a full powered cartridge, but it will prove a fine rifle none the less--nearly recoilless, cheap to feed, handy and accurate.

When Steyr introduced a scout rifle in the same caliber, Col. Cooper dubbed it the "poodle scout," and spoke rather scornfully of the idea of a light caliber scout rifle. I see his point of view; such a weapon is useful for fewer things than one chambered for his recommendation, .308. He wanted the scout rifle to be useful for as many things as possible. But we need not be persuaded by his reasoning. A scout in .223 goes against the scout rifle concept, but it is not inherently a bad idea. It would be a great gun for pest control, small deer as found some places in Europe, and likely some other things as well.

Of course Cooper was right about the versatility factor. There are varmint loads for the .308 but no moose loads for the .223. So if you really are looking for all the versatility you can get, which was the original idea behind scout rifles, .308 is a far better answer.

For some uses, though, the .308 is overkill, and if that describes your uses, fine. I see no reason to be doctrinaire at this late date, so many years after the scout rifle concept was thought up. Of course when the scout idea was initially promoted, it was important to clarify by repetition that the concept was a broadly useful rifle, light, small and full powered. But everyone understands the concept by now, and not everybody is persuaded. Some people may like the form and function of a scout but do not need the .308.

Self driving Cadillac to go on sale in 2017

Details here:

It'll no doubt be expensive. I've experienced the far more basic GM traffic sensing technology that is available now, in a rented 2014 Impala, and I'm led to believe the upcoming system will work, but not in all conditions, just as the above-linked article states. The sensors do a great job of detecting vehicles in front and to the sides, of figuring out where your lane is, and warning of conflicts. The only false positives I experienced were warning beeps and flashes on a twisty mountain road, where for an instant it can seem that cars are heading for each other when in fact they are simply negotiating a bend while going in opposite directions.

Linking the sensors to the steering wheel and pedals is a dramatic move and will be marketed with all possible hype, but it really isn't a big step technically. The computer already knows where you are, where your intended track lies and where the other cars are. I am sure I will never give up watching the traffic, if and when self driving cars fall into my price bracket, and it will take me at least 50,000 miles to stop hovering my hands near the wheel and lifting my braking foot into the air, but it's all very interesting.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Reflecting on ammo shortages

Optimistic voices are arising around the web to say the ammo drought seems to be easing. That's nice, if so, but the shortages of recent years have underscored a couple of points for those paying attention.

1. Keep an ammo reserve that you will not dip into for practice purposes unless and until you can get more cartridges to replace the ones you shoot. How many cartridges to keep on hand and what kind are up to you, but a gun without ammo is useless and your ammo stockpile should reflect that. There is a lot of variability in ideas about how much is enough. The proverbial one box every few seasons deer hunter is good to go if he has a few spare boxes. I refer to the chap who fires a few shots at the start of the season to be sure he is still sighted in, uses another shot or two to get his deer and is then done with shooting for the year. In contrast, a 'prepper' prone to entertain lurid future scenarios will want much more. I fall somewhere between the two in my own thinking.

2. Dry firing is excellent practice, except that it is a bit boring. What we old timers did during the ammo shortages was up our proportion of dry fire to live ammo practice while shopping around for 'deals' on ammo that did not make our blood boil much. Seriously: You can practice all the most important marksmanship skills without firing a shot. You need to shoot enough live ammo to confirm that you're doing it right, but no more than that.

I would suppose that recent shortages have encouraged a number of people, including the many new shooters among us, to think about notions like these, and thus set aside some ammo for a rainy day and learn how to get the most out of practicing with inert snap caps instead of live cartridges. That's all to the good, for they are important lessons, but I hope things at the ammo counter get back to normal soon. At the same time I wonder if they ever will.

The most recent round of shortages brought something I had never seen before: .22 LR all but disappeared from the stores for a while, where it used to be common and cheap. My habit for years before was to buy a 'brick' (10 boxes of 50) whenever I saw a marked down price. Stores would offer the stuff as a loss leader and I saw little reason not to take them up on it. I then put my purchase on a shelf at home along with the other bricks of .22. I figured I was saving money and I usually had plenty of .22 LR in reserve. I don't know if we will ever see days like that again.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"Atomic Attack" -- a TV thriller from 1954

If you are of such and such an age you will remember the fears touched upon by this 1954 television drama.

This is actually a fairly mild representation of the fears many people felt back in the Cold War era. If you are altogether from another time, no doubt you have your own fears, of altogether different things. Give it a watch and figure out why old folks aren't all panicky about global warming, large sodas, evil hamburger chains and a lot of other contemporary "concerns."

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Infantry gear through the ages

Interesting slide show presentation from the UK Telegraph. Go see the whole thing here:

It shows all the stuff soldiers carried, in thirteen examples from the year 1066 through 2014.

Battle of Agincourt, 1415. Longbow, short sword and rondel dagger

WWI, 1916. Notice the mace, at left

Present day, quite a burden

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Nice machine gun--Heckler & Koch HK121

I saw this demo video at and thought I'd pass it along. It's promotional material, so of course the gun comes off very well, but even so, this gun looks like a really good example of what a 7.62 x 51 GPMG oughta be. Not an asbestos mitten in sight!

On LiveLeak:

Monday, July 28, 2014

Colorado update: The 40% turkey comes home to roost

I earlier reported* on a big lie foisted on the public by Obama et al, that up to 40% of gun sales happen without background checks. Anyone involved in the gun scene knew that could not be true, that the figure was grossly exaggerated. When our reasons were shown, Obama and a Greek chorus of "news" reporters kept on saying it anyway: Forty percent, forty percent, forty percent.

Now the lie is exposed for all to see, as Colorado's new and superfluous background check law has roped in all the desperados transferring guns in above-board private sales. The law has now been in place for a little over a year. The actual number of private sales is very small, scarcely justifying the expense of a program to monitor such things. You end up monitoring shooting buddies swapping guns, or country folks adding a gun or two into a complicated horse trade for a truck. Honest people mostly get their guns through the FFL process, the exceptions are generally trivial, and crooks will not comply with background checks in any case. Colorado's universal background check law is a fraud.

We told you so. Such laws solve an imaginary problem, to the inconvenience and expense of honest gun owners, and do nothing whatever to inconvenience criminals. Repeal this turkey of a law.

News coverage:

The NRA's comments:

*My previous posts on the 40% fabrication:

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Speaking of carbines

Whatever kind of carbine you select, its absolutely required capability is speed in hitting a close target. The short range snap shot is the life saving shot, the one you must not miss or delay.

The carbine is the most versatile of fighting firearms. A well designed example can serve most functions of pistol and rifle. It will serve better for close defense than any pistol and reach out to much longer distances.

The M1 carbine, introduced in the WWII era, was a great little carbine in many ways, delightfully handy and light, but it had some problems. Its cartridge was no powerhouse and the long distance accuracy of many GI carbines was hit and miss. (Unless the little gun is set up just right it will throw fliers out of its groups.) The M1 Carbine taught the shooting world some important lessons. Ergonomic form and light weight count for a lot, but so does a cartridge that finishes the fight.

Left to right, first row: Eisenhower, Churchill, Bradley. M1 Carbines.

The current M4 carbine is, of course, a shortened M16, with some variations and adaptations to make the mechanism work in an abbreviated package. Its ergos are pretty good and it is of a handy length. Its accuracy is generally very good. Complaints about the M4 are mainly that it fires the 5.56, and does so at a lesser velocity than the M16. If the M16 and its cartridge are marginal at long range the M4 is more so. Neither weapon is ideal for long range encounters in wide open country, but that kind of fighting is unusual, historically speaking.

Marine shoots M4

The Tavor rifle counts as a carbine because it is very short, a result of its bullpup construction with the action to the rear. The person used to the balance and form of a conventional carbine will need to get used to the Tavor, but it appears to be an excellent performer, accurate and reliable.

Tavor rifle

Turning to older technology, the lever action .30-30 is fantastically successful throughout the Americas, as a general purpose weapon for outdoorsmen. It also serves some people as a defense and emergency preparedness arm. They already have a deer rifle and suppose that is sufficient; they may be right at that. The lever carbine is convenient in its operation, well balanced and comes quickly onto the target for the snap shot. It points naturally for most people, contributing to their confidence with it. I count five manufacturers currently offering versions of this historic weapon and I cannot count all the people carrying these things afield for game or for protection.

Unknown actor with lever carbine

Mossberg has startled traditionalists with its 464 SPX, a .30-30 tricked out with an adjustable stock resembling the M4's, a rail mount fore end and a threaded muzzle. I kind of like it. If these mods make sense on a modern rifle, they make equal sense on an older design. If it all seems a bit much, though, Mossberg will of course be happy to supply you with a traditional looking .30-30.

Whatever kind of carbine you select, its absolutely required capability is speed in hitting a close target. The short range snap shot is the life saving shot, the one you must not miss or delay. Reject any features or modifications that interfere with it. For example, a red dot sight may do you some good, but a sniper scope is the wrong idea. Hanging a bipod on the gun will slow you down when you need to be fast. Think lean and quick.

To my way of looking at things, the carbine is a short range weapon first and foremost. I think this way because short range defensive emergencies are far the most common kind, so your weapon should be highly suitable for such use. The carbine's ability to reach out to distances that a pistol or a shotgun cannot match is merely a bonus. A defense gun that may need to serve for near or far is much more likely to be needed at near distance. A properly set up carbine deals with that reality by being optimized for close work, without ruling out longer distances.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Be vewwy quiet! Shotgun sound suppressor

Well. This should be a help in being vewwy vewwy quiet, when hunting wabbits.

There is some sharp thinking in the way this can is built. Look at how it puts extra expansion volume underneath the bore line where it is out of the way. Examine the lengthwise guide rods that allow gas to vent freely behind the wad.

There is agitation underway to have suppressors taken off the NFA rolls and sold like other accessories. The argument is that these devices prevent hearing loss for shooters and range bystanders and cause less disturbance for people near gun ranges, and quieter guns are less likely to spook game and livestock.

There really isn't a good crime fighting argument for keeping them under the NFA. A serviceable silencer is an easy workshop project. Honest citizens only register the things because they are. . .honest citizens.

Backgrounder on silencers:

Friday, July 25, 2014

How to get a FREE R51 pistol from Remington

Remington R51 pistol, via TFB

Send them your old one. Yep. Remington Arms says:

"Earlier this year, we launched the innovative R51 subcompact pistol to critical acclaim. During testing, numerous experts found the pistol to function flawlessly. In fact, they found it to have lower felt recoil, lower muzzle rise and better accuracy and concealability than other products in its class.

However, after initial commercial sales, our loyal customers notified us that some R51 pistols had performance issues. We immediately ceased production to re-test the product.  While we determined the pistols were safe, certain units did not meet Remington’s performance criteria. The performance problems resulted from complications during our transition from prototype to mass production. These problems have been identified and solutions are being implemented, with an expected production restart in October. 

Anyone who purchased an R51 may return it and receive a new R51 pistol, along with two additional magazines and a custom Pelican case, by calling Remington at (800) 243-9700.   

The new R51 will be of the same exceptional quality as our test pistols, which performed flawlessly.  

We appreciate your patience and support."

Sniper challenge

Sniping is the use of stealth and marksmanship to achieve surprise. As such it is not limited to any particular weapon, though a scoped rifle is the usual choice. Sly use of concealed cannons, as sometimes occurred in the World Wars, counts as sniping. So does taking out a spy across a street by the use of a sound-suppressed pistol.

All the same, the classic use of sniping as a tactic involves crawling around in the weeds with a precision rifle with an optic on it. Let's brainstorm a bit and see if we can come up with more uses for an expert shot who shows up where the enemy does not expect him. His armament may be any aimed weapon if you can get it there unnoticed.

Challenge: Think of ways to make use of the basic ideas of sniping, but think in terms of unusual weapons, unusual targets or both.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Vote For @KendalBlack

Or whomever... I voted for @MrColionNoir, @TamSlick and the guys @TheGunWire .

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cloak and dagger -- a note on knife fighting

'Round the cracker barrel t'other day, the talk turned to knife techniques for self defense. Something came up that was interesting enough to share here.

One very good way to use a knife is with the knife hand held to the rear. The free hand runs interference for the knife hand and preserves the knife hand's freedom to act. You can use the forward hand to block, grab or hit, but its main job is making sure the knife hand is not pinned or obstructed.  Then, when an opportunity presents, in goes your point.

Of course this leaves your forward hand vulnerable if the foe has a knife. One old answer is to wrap your cloak around the forward arm to protect it, the origin of the term "cloak and dagger." But have you ever heard of knife and hat? That one's from Spain, the method of using your hat in your off hand to distract and to defend, intercept another's blade or smack him in the face or whatever.

All such methods bear a family resemblance to the classic way of using the Roman sword. The legionnaire used his shield to screen and protect his short sword and sword arm until he was ready to make sudden use of his sword.

Street improvisations you might use these days: You may use a briefcase, an organizer notebook, or what have you, as a shield. Or you may use a flat cap or a ball cap, or some other type of hat that might be used to catch an opposing blade. The basic tactic remains the same whatever you substitute for a shield. It is an ancient tactic but from that we may conclude it is pretty good, since stupid ideas are generally customary for only a generation or two, not for centuries. That is why a long tradition deserves some degree of respect; it worked for somebody!

Lots of people carry knives for everyday utility purposes with the idea that a knife might serve also as an emergency backup means of self defense. Often they do not have much in the way of a plan that tells them how they are supposed to use a knife for defense. Here is a plan that is simple and proven. Once you learn it you are not likely to forget it. It is better in those respects than fancy martial arts techniques that appear to involve a lot of waving in the direction of the adversary.

Col. Rex Applegate, the fellow in the top illustration, wrote a short instruction book on this kind of fighting. It spends too much time extoling the virtues of a fighting knife he designed, but otherwise the book is good--clear and direct in describing the technique.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Heckler und Gloch?

Glock-inspired striker fired pistols are popping up all over the defense gun marketplace. They're everywhere you look.

In the previous century, something happened to dramatically change the revolver market. Everybody who made revolvers took a careful look at the then-new Smith and Wesson Hand Ejector revolver. The thing just worked. The cylinder swung out the side and the empty cases were pushed out, all of them at the same time, using a rod sticking out of the front of the cylinder. Then you reloaded the cylinder and swung it back into place in the frame, and were ready to fire again. Before long, nearly everyone who made double action revolvers made them that way. Break top actions, side gate loading and the neurotic Merwin Hulbert mechanism went away in favor of the Smith system, which allowed revolvers to be quick to reload and also strongly built, with solid one-piece frames.

Something like that is now happening with auto pistols. More and more pistol makers offer striker fired DAO pistols resembling the Glock. Latest onto the bandwagon is Heckler & Koch. Here is a commercial for their entry in the Son of Glock sweepstakes.

I was wondering how the technology was going to work out: the question of which 20th century pistol would become the defining technology heading into the 21st. With so many pistol companies now on the same bandwagon it looks like we have a winner, it's the Glock. Truth to tell, I was rooting for the SIG Sauer P22X pistols with their decocker lockwork, hammer fired action and DA/SA functioning. But that wasn't what caught on. Now even SIG is offering a Glock-like striker fired pistol.

You can, to date, buy a Glockalike pistol from Ruger, Springfield, Smith & Wesson, Taurus, FN, SIG, H&K and likely some that I cannot now remember. Who will be next to offer such a gun? Colt, maybe--late to the party as usual.

Converging technology indicates that makers and purchasers have arrived at a matured consensus about how things ought to work. Nowadays, cars are enough alike that you can get into a strange one and drive it away with no trouble, but things were not always like that. The gearshift pedals, hand throttle and spark advance of the Ford Model T are things you will never see again. Likewise, recent double action revolvers, with few exceptions, are enough alike that if you are checked out on any one of them you can shoot the rest: Smith, Ruger, Colt, Taurus, Armscor, Charter or what have you.

In the last century, auto pistol designs converged upon the tipping barrel, short recoil Colt-Browning system, but there were as yet many variations in safety catches, mag releases and lockwork. It now it looks like we are converging on the Glock as the inspiration for how pistols ought to work.

Something odd about all this is that the Glock 17,  pattern and basis of subsequent Glocks, was Gaston Glock's very first firearm design. Was the result beginner's luck, or was it the advantage of bringing fresh eyes to a problem?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Self defense strategy

I may be going on too much about this. It's the third time I've brought it up. The last two times didn't stir much reader interest. The shooting community in general, even the defensive and practical shooting segment, does not seem to be deeply interested in examining strategy as it applies to personal defense.

None the less, I will go on about it a bit more, hoping to generate some interest in the matter. I have identified several force multipliers you can use in personal self defense with a firearm.

  • Take an ensconced defender role. As a defender fighting from chosen cover you have at least a three to one advantage, which ideal circumstances can boost as high as eight or nine to one.  

  • Maximize your hit probability. Do all you can to improve your likelihood of connecting with your target. This involves choosing your weaponry based on efficiency not style and also carefully evaluating how you go about target practice. Most shots fired in anger miss. You want to drive down your proportion as best you can. 

  • Use surprise if possible. The advantage of surprise can be enormous or slight; it depends on how big a surprise it is. At Pearl Harbor it was the decisive factor of the battle. Some other attempts have not come off so well.

Doing any one of these will increase your odds of surviving a gunfight. Done together they represent a very substantial increase in your chances. I concluded that from reading dry military studies and applying a bit of common sense to them. I have never been in a self defense shooting situation--will be pleased if I go to my rest without doing that--but I think preparedness and knowledge are good things. If you own a gun for defense it takes more than the occasional sunny day at the range to be really ready to use it to best effect. A bit of planning helps.

I will be writing more about these three strategic advantages, returning to the subject from time to time. Knowing about them and factoring them into my thinking makes me safer if some bad thing happens and I need to defend home and hearth.

Are there any advantages I have missed? Other strategic advantages can be identified but they do not seem highly relevant to personal self defense. They have more to do with the movements of armies and securing big swaths of geography than with individual efforts.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Bah humbug, not hurrah, for the Fourth of July

1776: The most important thing that the people can demand from their government is freedom.
2014: The most important thing that the people can demand from their government is free stuff.

How have the mighty fallen! Generations since have squandered what the Revolution gave us. Washington, Madison, Jefferson and the rest gave us the gift of freedom. We have little left to show for it.

I don't suppose I should feel too responsible.  The fall of America was in progress before my parents were born. The die was cast in 1913. That was the year we lost the Constitution's built-protection against unlimited taxing and spending. You can read about that here.

1913 was a bad year in other ways. It saw the passage of the 17th Amendment, changing for the worse the way we choose our senators. They were no longer accountable to the state legislatures because they were no longer beholden to them for their jobs. All congressional power was consolidated in Washington, D.C.  1913 also saw the creation of the Federal Reserve.

After all that, we never had a chance. 1913 was the tipping point. It will be one of those years historians remember for watershed events. It was when we gained the tools to take up in real earnest the policy of bribing ourselves with our own money.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

U.S. military wants a new pistol

Time to get rid of it?

Article here:

The story is that the Berettas and SIG's are getting old, they fire a round without enough stopping power and so forth. A pistol is of slight importance in the military, unless you happen to be the one armed with it when trouble occurs. It then, doubtless, seems plenty important to you. So I'm all in favor of the military having good pistols.

Personally, I see little wrong with either pistol the forces are using. If effectiveness is the big issue here, perhaps putting a flat nose on the 9mm FMJ bullet would be something to explore. Other ammunition innovations that stay within the letter of the law of the Hague convention could be tried out, as well. A spoon nose profile could be tried, or a bullet balanced strongly rearward to encourage early yawing.

Abandoning the 9mm NATO cartridge would in one way be a bad idea. It is a cartridge in widespread use in many places around the world, making supplies of it easy to come by. That it is so widely used forces a conclusion that a lot of people have found something right with it. As to what that good thing is, I think the 9mm sits right on the balance point between power on the one hand and controllability on the other. It is about as much cartridge as people can handle if they are briefly trained on the pistol.

The article mentions that the troops are having trouble with the Beretta's safety lever, applying it when they do not mean to when racking the slide. That has been a well known thing you need to watch out for since that style of safety appeared in the 1920's. It can hardly be that the Army did not know about it when the Beretta was adopted. It is a train the brain issue, not a mechanical defect. The supposed problem of the too-long trigger reach on the Beretta is easily solved. Just cock the hammer.

Anyway it appears that we are off to the circus with yet another weapon selection program that will generate a lot of entertainment for gun cognoscenti. If I ran the circus the soldiers would get some sort of light DAO trigger, no external safeties to fool with and an improved 9mm bullet. But that's just me. The clustering bureaucrats will see to it that the selection process will produce lots of controversy for gun bloggers to cover. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Open carry activists

Those who work against your interests are not doing you good, whatever they say they are doing. Any number of things may claimed to be for your own good, or for the public good, that are not good. Such claims are inherently unconvincing. An easy refutation is that I know what my own good is and you are not doing it. Quit doing me such favors.

The open carry activists need to stop what they are doing and listen to what everyone else is saying. This is not the right time for this fight, or this is not the right fight for these times. You're scaring the horses, so cut it out.

Most recently these self-appointed bubbas of 2nd Amendment righteousness have gotten Target stores to "request" they go away.

You know what? I'm requesting it too. Go away. If you think you are making a point by displaying your guns where it is not customary or welcome--even if it is, narrowly, legal--you'd better reconsider what point it is that you are actually making. Apply a test of results. Creating annoyance is not victory. Creating welcome and acceptance of gun owners and guns is victory, and you are not victorious. It's not victory to create lousy press that encourages the other side. It's not victory when one business after another closes its doors to people with guns, due to the ill conceived stunts of a few.

It has crossed my mind--wild thought--that these in-you-face open carry activists might be working against our interests intentionally. By "our" I mean gun owners' interests in general. But naah... That couldn't happen, right? Not in America, where everyone is on the up and up, and you never see a false flag. Tell me I'm right, somebody. Please.

If I look at the matter squarely, I cannot believe that the open carry movement is simply a case of good intentions gone wrong. There has to be something else going on. What they are doing gets consistently negative results--negative legislation, negative press and more and more businesses prohibiting guns on their premises. And yet these allegedly pro-gun activists keep on doing the things that produce these results. If it isn't a false flag operation, then maybe it is a matter of useful idiots, talked into doing things they do not understand. There must be some motive beyond their stated one. Otherwise the matter just doesn't add up. The right to bear arms is not advanced by bringing about further restrictions. You would think anyone would see that.

The only other explanation I've heard that is the least bit plausible is that they don't care about the harm they are doing. They are rewarded by their fellows' approval; they are happy to cause others distress while placing themselves in a weird limelight of public notoriety. They like the attention that comes from stirring people up. They love getting on YouTube. Could that be all there is to it, just a gang of attention seekers, unfortunately using guns as their props as they seek fifteen minutes of fame?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Where to get the manual for your Browning Double Auto shotgun

The owner's booklet is online as a PDF file. Randy Wakeman posted it several years ago, but I did not find out about it at the time. I came across it this evening while searching for something else. The factory instructions are exceedingly hard to find in printed form.

The PDF of the original manual:

Browning's Double Auto shotgun is a great favorite of mine, perhaps because it is a so bizarre: two shots (one plus one capacity), semi-automatic. There is no magazine tube. The second shell is held on the lifter. The gun will serve all the roles of a double barrel gun and is sleeker and handier. It makes sense to me, but it didn't to a lot of people. It was never one of Browning's good sellers and the design was shelved more than 40 years ago.

The gun is light, responsive, well balanced, swings easily. It might have been a big success if Sporting Clays had existed back when the gun was being made. It's just right for that kind of shooting: fast and adaptive responses to what you see.

Nice article about the gun:

I bought a used-excellent Twelvette model some years back but got no handbook with it, so I had to look at the NRA Firearms Assemblybook to figure out how it worked. It's nice to read the factory manual at last. Belated thanks to Randy.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Mass shooters: look at their eyes

In many of these deranged killers I see a couple of peculiar things. Their eyes are wrong and their cheeks are wrong, in ways that produce a creepy effect.

Mass shooters get tons of press. It is because they have now become the poster boys for leftist gun control. We had mass shootings in the past but the news coverage had a different character. Now the coverage always includes many calls for political interventions, mainly for further gun laws restricting everyone, and thus lasts longer than it would if it were merely a matter of some people getting murdered in, say, Chicago's streetz or some other drug fueled free fire zone.

But the media circus does have a useful side effect. We see the killers' faces repeatedly. As a result of seeing so much of them, I have noticed something distinctly odd about those faces. There is a similarity of facial expressions. I think that is useful to remark on, for an explanation of it may further our understanding of such crimes.

In many of these deranged killers I see a couple of peculiar things. Their eyes are wrong and their cheeks are wrong, in ways that produce a creepy effect.

The eyes are glassy and indifferent, emotionally detached, soulless, cold, uncaring, reminding of the glass eyes of a doll, or of the open eyes of a dead animal.

The cheeks are held stiffly and rigidly in a straight face or, sometimes, in a smile that is somehow unnatural. Whatever is causing the peculiarity of expression, it's not normal. Eyes should be responsive to surroundings, cheeks flexible to express a variety of emotions.

I am not sure what I am seeing here, but I have some conjectures. For the moment, why don't you take a look and see what you think?

As to an explanation, there are several I would inquire into. Is there some dangerously psychotropic drug that produces this effect? Is it a manifestation of some sort of neurological problem? Is it a reflection of a particular kind of disturbed psychological state, or even the touch of the demonic? Any of those might account for it. I am for the present at a loss about it, but it does bear looking into. Understanding a common element in these crimes, beyond those we have already figured out, would be helpful in figuring out how to prevent the shootings.

It may be my background or my bias, but I see life's spiritual dimension as ever present in human decisions and actions, even in works of the most depraved kind. I get a creepy feeling from these faces because I sense that something has gone terribly wrong in the empathy that, at least minimally, should connect one person with all others.

If you have an idea about this, please respond in the comments section or tweet to .